A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about taking go-kart racing against some friends a bit too seriously while on a vacation (read “Competitive Much?”) to go watch my favorite baseball team play a few spring training games. For diehard baseball fans, the smaller parks and relative accessibility of even the sport’s most popular players make the spring training complexes in Arizona and Florida a vacation destination for a more intimate viewing experience.
The players are more relaxed about signing autographs or saying hello between innings, and you can even line the fences to watch the teams practice and warm up between games. You just can’t get that kind of interaction during the regular season, when players are in total focus mode for six months – after all, they play 162 games in 180 days.
Even at an AMA Supercross event, with its Monster Energy pit party as one of the main attractions, the sport’s superstars are relatively unreachable. You may spend an hour in line for a autographed poster and a quick snapshot from your favorite rider, but unless you know some people who know some people you’re probably not going to be able to sit down and talk shop. There’s plenty to do, even driving Traxxas trucks on the Try-Me track that they set up at every round (check out my past blog “RC (Super)crosses over” for the story), but when it comes to spending quality time with your favorite riders you’re better off crossing tire tracks with them at a local practice track.
RC, on the other hand, offers anyone the chance to meet and talk to their favorite racers at even the most prestigious and important events in the industry. Sure, it’s polite to let a factory driver focus on his upcoming run and not bother him in the heats leading up to his race, but top pros understand the importance of connecting with the common customer and offering advice, support, and even friendship to those who come over and show interest. The most approachable pro drivers often set aside their own vehicles to help a racer in need, even if that person is using equipment that didn’t come from that driver’s sponsors.
Having spent years attending national-level races as a driver, and now covering them for years as part of the media, I’ve not only had the chance to become friends with many of the industry’s top pros but also watch hundreds of hobbyists act completely starstruck over meeting the big names for the first time. Don’t be shy! One of the most appealing values of radio control is the accessibility of the industry’s biggest stars. Not only do they know it’s part of the job, most of them enjoy meeting tons of new people.
Of course, if you have the chance to attend RCX next month in Long Beach, CA, you’ll have plenty of opportunities!